Renewable energy developer Enel Green Power (EGP) has connected the 147 MW Soetwater Wind Farm, located in a remote part of the Karoo Hoogland local municipality in the Northern Cape, to the national grid as it achieves commercial operation.
The plant will be able to generate 585 GWh/y, potentially averting the emission of about 600 000 t/y of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The wind farm features Vestas V136 4.2 MW wind turbines, the largest on the African continent to date, the company adds.
The plant, developed as part of round four of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, is supported by a 20-year power purchase agreement with State-owned energy utility Eskom.
“Soetwater wind farm brings the number of EGP South Africa wind farms in operation up to seven, and includes the 88 MW Nojoli, the 140 MW Oyster Bay, Nxuba, Garob farms and the 147 MW Karusa wind farm.”
The company has 12 operational wind and solar projects in South Africa, with an overall installed capacity of 1.2 GW.
Construction of the R3.5-billion, or €200-million, facility started in September 2019, and the process was hampered at times by stop/start delays in response to Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions, says EGP South Africa country manager Manuele Battisti.
“The hard lockdown in 2020 – in particular – resulted in difficulties relating to the transportation of people between provinces, as well as the transportation of experts and commissioning teams from other parts of the world. This highlights, all the more, what a significant achievement this is for both the project team and the country,” he adds.
EGP is committed to playing a crucial role in helping the country solve its energy crises using renewable energy solutions. It also employs local staff and hires local contractors in the construction process, with the aim of promoting meaningful socio-economic and enterprise development. At the peak of the construction phase, the project employed 1 160 people, he says.
Further, as part of its Creating Shared Value initiative, the company helped underserved communities in close proximity to the wind farm by supporting an educational support programme, which included the installation of 12 interactive smartboards for Roggeveld Primary School and Sutherland High School, located in Sutherland, the closest town to the wind farm.
The company also donated food relief parcels to about 200 families to offset the impact of the nationwide lockdowns on vulnerable communities. The initiative was undertaken in close consultation and support of the Karoo Hoogland local municipality.
Additional projects such as community leadership training, youth skills development, a drug and substance awareness campaign, further educational support to the Sutherland-based schools, equipment to upgrade the sports facility and the provision of medical supplies for the only clinic in Sutherland have been earmarked for implementation during the third and fourth quarters of the 2022/23 financial year, Battisti says.
Meanwhile, the company’s work at Soetwater was completed without any lost-time incidents.
“At Soetwater, we provided training for employees on more than 30 different health, safety and environment topics to ensure a safer working environment.
“Safety is incredibly important to the business and we pride ourselves on our safety record. The women and men who worked on the site consistently not only complied with existing safety procedures and protocols, they also embraced a whole new set of protocols relating to Covid-19,” he concludes.